Conditional sentences using wenn

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Conditional sentences using wenn

Conditional sentences mostly use wenn (if/when). The condition comes immediately after wenn, and the result comes in the other part of the sentence (without wenn).

Wenn die Sonne scheint, treffen wir uns im Biergarten.

When the sun shines, we meet in the beer garden.

Tim würde eine Reise machen, wenn er Geld hätte.

Tim would go travelling if he had any money.

These are the main types of conditional sentence:

  • "Real" condition sentences: the condition is possible wenn (if/when) + present tense + present tense

Wenn du in die Schweiz fährst, kaufst du Schokolade. fahren, Präsenskaufen, Präsens

When you travel to Switzerland, you buy chocolate. 

Wenn du mir hilfst, bin ich schneller fertig. helfen, Präsens sein, Präsens

If you help me, I'll be done more quickly. (English uses the future here where German uses the present)

  • "Unreal" condition sentences: the condition is probably or definitely not possible → wenn (if) + subjunctive II + subjunctive II

Wenn ich ein Vogel wäre, würde ich zu dir fliegen. sein, Konj. II Präteritumwerden, Konj. II Präteritum

If I were a bird I would fly to you.

Wenn wir nicht arbeiten müssten, würden wir im Bett bleiben. müssen, Konj. II Präteritumwerden, Konj. II Präteritum

If we didn't have to work, we would stay in bed.

Wenn du mir helfen würdest, wäre ich schneller fertig. werden, Konj. II Präteritumsein, Konj. II Präteritum

If you helped me, I'd be done more quickly.

Note: sometimes conditional sentences don't use wenn (if). The meaning is still the same.

Wenn wir Yoga machen, sind wir entspannt. → Machen wir Yoga, sind wir entspannt.

When we do yoga, we are relaxed. (same meaning for both sentences)

Wenn ich ein Hund wäre, würde ich bellen. → Wäre ich ein Hund, würde ich bellen.

If I were a dog, I would bark. (same meaning for both sentences)

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